X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

NEW YORK – The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and four community development CUs are among the 20 financial institutions and organizations that have put their support behind an initiative launched this month by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs and New York State Department of Banking to encourage New Yorkers who have no relationship with a financial institution to open basic savings accounts as the first step toward achieving financial independence and stability. New York State law requires all commercial banks, savings banks and credit unions to offer consumers low-fee basic banking services, but according to New York State Department of Banking estimates, 800,000 adult New Yorkers lack basic services from a credit union or bank. The “Bank on New York” campaign, says a Department of Consumer Affairs spokesperson, is “an unprecedented initiative whereby credit unions and banks agree to promote during the month of January low fee banking services” that will allow these consumers to use direct deposit and save money on daily transactions by avoiding more expensive options. NFCDCU Executive Director Cliff Rosenthal said the campaign grows out of the work the city of New York has been doing the last couple of years on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable federal income tax credit for low-income working families and individuals. He said he’s been very impressed with the “dimensions of the city’s efforts” to make sure low-income consumers have access to federal rebates on their taxes. In 2003, the Internal Revenue Service says more than 21 million taxpayers collected more than $36 billion in EITC payments. “To me the Bank on New York campaign represents a next stage in their efforts. EITC is a great way to help low income people get tax refunds and it’s a boost for them, but without an account at a financial they’re still at a disadvantage. By working through the network of financial institutions in the city, the Department of Consumer Affairs is helping people with the next step.” For the month of January, through the Bank on New York campaign, credit unions and banks throughout New York City will use targeted advertising and consumer education in English, Spanish and Chinese to promote low or no fee savings accounts and distribute information about EITC. In addition to the advertisements being displayed at the financial institutions, they’re also being placed on bus shelters and in newspapers citywide. The ad shows a picture of a large jar filled with small change. The copy reads: “If this is your idea of a bank account, stop fooling yourself.Open a Real Account Today! Opening an account at your local bank or credit union is easy and will save you money that you now pay to cash checks and get money orders. At tax time, you can have your refund directly deposited quickly and avoid high interest loans from tax preparers.” Several credit union and bank representatives joined Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Gretchen Dykstra and New York State Superintendent of Banking Diana Taylor for the campaign announcement on Jan. 6. Meagan van Harte, director of development services, Lower East Side Peoples FCU was one of the attendees who also spoke at the launching event. She said the Department of Consumer Affairs is aware of the work CDCUs in New York City have done with low-income individuals “and they know this initiative is targeted at those consumers. That’s why we felt it was important the Department invited credit unions and organizations that represent credit unions to participate in the campaign.” According to van Harte, Lower East Side Peoples FCU is one of the largest small groups that offers tax preparation services. It completed 1,600 filings in 2004 for the 2003 tax season, and it expects to do more than 2,000 filings for the 2004 tax season. The credit union has four sites it does tax filings out of – one at its main branch, one at the Grant Street Settlement House, and two in conjunction with the New York City Housing Authority. “While we talk with people about taxes, we tell them we also offer them the ability to open a share draft account with us so they can have their refund directly deposited into their credit union share draft account,” says van Harte. “That way they can have direct access to the money as cash.” This year will be the third year Lower East Side People FCU has been doing tax filings. The first year it opened 80 accounts, and last year it opened 100 share draft accounts. “New York City has a high immigrant population which has had vastly different experiences with banks than Americans have had, and they don’t always understand credit unions either. They need to understand there are different types of financial institutions, they need to understand all their options,” says van Harte. Other New York credit unions participating in Bank on New York include Bushwick Cooperative FCU, Montauk CU, and Union Settlement FCU. Speaking at the ceremony marking the launch of the campaign, Commissioner Dykstra said “Bank on New York is a tremendous opportunity to reach hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who may not know that using a bank account is cheaper than using instant tax loans or money orders. Together with the Banking Department and the City’s banking community, we urge consumers, especially those filing for the EITC, to steer clear of high-priced schemes such as refund anticipation loans that most appeal to those relying on getting tax refunds quickly.” New York State Credit Union League President/CEO William Mellin expressed his support of the Bank on New York initiative. “The New York State Credit Union League (NYSCUL) supports this program and looks forward to working with the Department of Consumer Affairs and the State Banking Department towards its success,” said Mellin. “Credit unions already have a driving desire to serve the underserved. The `Bank on New York’ program dovetails perfectly with that desire to grant greater access to low-cost financial services in underserved communities as well as help the `unbanked’ retain relationships with financial institutions.” -

Credit Union Times

Join Credit Union Times

Don’t miss crucial strategic and tactical information necessary to run your institution and better serve your members. Join Credit Union Times now!

  • Free unlimited access to Credit Union Times' trusted and independent team of experts for extensive industry news, conference coverage, people features, statistical analysis, and regulation and technology updates.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and Credit Union Times events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including TreasuryandRisk.com and Law.com.

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join Credit Union Times

Copyright © 2019 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.